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Chanting is a devotional practice. It is not a religion, although in yoga it derives its roots from Hindu practice and mythology. Chanting is added to yogic practice to enhance and expand connection to Self. When you chant OM at the beginning or end of class, you are joining your voice with other voices in a Universal current of life. Is it religious? No. Is it profound? Yes. Is it universal? Yes.
Devotion is an expansion of both heavens and earth. The one being adored expands, as does the one doing the adoring. All souls are equal under the sun. Your happiness is greatly valued by the one you devote yourself to. It is truly a love relationship between you and the whole Universe.
When you tie into an energy greater than yourself, you are able to let go and expand into a greater version of your Self. If a surfer catches a wave in the ocean, he or she will ride the wave to its completion. It’s exhilarating to tie into Universal energy! It is in limitless supply and absolutely free of charge. And it changes you when you touch up against it. Every time you let go of your personal view (your conclusions, opinions and strategies for a good life) and call in a greater energy (higher power, Nature, appreciation of life, praise of God), you allow yourself to expand.
Devotion is not a group you join or a religion you follow. Devotion is a sacred connection you create in a way that makes sense to you in your life. It is something that feeds your spirit. It is a give and take relationship between you and the Universe. If you are not receiving something back from your dedicated efforts, perhaps you are obsessed. If your devotion is draining the life out of you, it might be time to re-examine what you have dedicated your life to. Devotion should bring an expansive and loving quality to your life. Your efforts to co-create with the Universe should open you up; you should be challenged and encouraged to grow. You should feel expanded as a result of your devotion. Indeed, even happy.
When you give something towards your dedication, you receive something back. This is what continues the devotional relationship. Someone who dedicates their life to a certain cause feels an expanded love as a result of their devotion. Those who have dedicated themselves to a single purpose emerge with an appreciation of the whole thing, of life itself. Ravi Shankar devoted himself to the study of raga; Mahatma Gandhi devoted himself to non-violence and communal unity; Pattabhi Jois dedicated himself to the study of yoga. Their dedication led each of them to an enlightened state of being. Devotion expands your personal experience into a Universal appreciation of life and love.
There are many ways to connect into Source energy. Chanting allows you to access it through your breath, the vibrations of your larynx and sympathetic vibrations in your bones and muscle tissue, and through the stimulation of tongue, upper palate, brain and nerve endings. When you apply mantra (sacred syllables) to living organisms, beautiful expansion results. Why? It is source energy. When offered with love, it is limitless. (Try playing peaceful mantras for your plants during the day; they will grow beautifully!)
There are hundreds of healers, life coaches, authors, counselors and programs to help you become more fully yourself. Becoming fully present is a lifelong journey. Chanting is one way to allow your sacred nature to come forward. In my own experience I have found that the more I allow myself to embrace these yogic practices (yoga, chanting, and meditation), the more light I am able to hold. Offering myself again and again, I see that my personal journey can be transformed into one of purpose and dedication. The arrival of imperfection is a must. It wouldn’t be a spiritual path if there were not a big chasm between our true nature and our personal view of it. Each one of us has something to offer – some gift, some understanding or wisdom. The spiritual path is the journey to uncover that gift; to purify all that stands between you and your full offering of your Self. You can breathe your way to glory; you can sing your way to love. The vibration of sacred syllables can open you gradually and inevitably to your true nature.
WAH! has spent a lifetime immersed in spiritual pursuit, beginning yoga and meditation at age 17, studying in Europe, India and Africa. Wah! has worked with various jazz, pop and world musicians to create trendy meditative music for the yoga community. Her much anticipated CD LOVE HOLDING LOVE from Nettwerk Records will be released in September 2008. www.wahmusic.com